The perfect storm conspiring against the Pacers and their home attendance continues to blow through Indy. Of course there is the knucklehead behavior and injuries which have hurt the on-court product. Hard to entice fans when your not playing well and have some key players that are hard to root for.
There has also been great local news that has hurt the Pacers ability to attract fans. First, the Colts captured the state's heart with a roller coaster year ending with their first Super Bowl. Meanwhile Butler men's basketball goes through a fabulous regular season that lured plenty of hoops fanatics to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Then yesterday they start out the NCAA Tournament with a solid win.
Now, both Purdue University and Indiana University men's teams are once again relevant in March. Neither team is quite where they were, say ten years ago, but they are both moving in that direction. IU took out Gonzaga last night and Purdue answered with a hard fought win against Arizona earlier tonight. I guarantee there will be several IU fans who in years past may have gone to the Pacers game tomorrow night but instead won't even consider it in order to watch the Hoosier play their second round game against UCLA.
The Pacers currently rank 27th in home attendance and all of the above factors have played a role. I mean, Atlanta has better home attendance numbers. Atlanta! That just highlights the general state of apathy toward the Pacers right now and how the competition for attention is kicking their butt.
As the mid-90's proved, there is plenty of love to go around for the Pacers, Hoosiers, and Boilermakers if they put out a product worth embracing. Now it is up to the Pacers to find a way to rekindle the passion in their fan base.
Congratulations to IU and Purdue for earning big Ws in March!